A Clockwork Orange

Found a copy of this book in a thrift store in Newburyport and decided to buy it (usually only rent books from the library but made an exception because it was used and I had just finished my last book). I didn’t really know what the book was about before starting it, and I still didn’t quite get it for a while after. Many of the words used were made up by the author, Anthony Burgess, and I had to learn what they each meant as I read on. It was a tough process, but I was surprised by how much I could understand without knowing the words. I used the same technique as when reading Spanish, which is to skim the sentences and try to just get a gist of what is happening, filling in the unknown words with my best guess. The actual meaning of the words became clearer as I continued this process. I read later that the author had wanted to use language that could express the slang used by the characters, but would have a timeless limit to it, which would be difficult when using actual slang of any given time. So he decided to create his own slang.

*Spoiler Alert*

At the beginning of the story, the main character, Alex, is a violent, selfish teenager who commits unthinkable crimes with his gang of equally evil youngsters. I was both disgusted and terrified by his behavior, but what was surprising was that I found myself feeling sorry for this same person toward the end of the novel. It might be just me (with my belief that no one is inherently bad) that felt this way, or it could’ve been the author’s convincing depiction of the terrible ways he was treated and how hopeless his life becomes.

The version of the book I read included the final chapter that is not included in some of the versions published in the States. The movie is based on the US version of the novel, so it also does not include the events from the final chapter. I thought the last chapter changed the whole outlook of the book, so some of the US versions and the movie do not do the story justice. It gave hope for the future, an unlikely ending to such a dark novel. I know that not everything leads to a brighter future in real life, but the last chapter just left me with a better feeling than if the book had ended the chapter before. It also acted as a great closure to a novel filled with chaos. I know it’s a selfish desire as the reader to want a happy ending, but I feel like I could understand, to some extent, why Burgess wrote the final chapter.